July: A Month of Birthdays and New Beginnings

Benita, Jimmie, and Kristopher Kepler 1977
Benita, Jimmie, and Kristopher Kepler
from February 1977

July: A Month of Birthdays and New Beginnings

July is an extraordinary month, filled with celebrations and significant milestones. For one, it marks the birthday of America, a time of patriotism and fireworks. But for me, July holds an even deeper meaning—it’s my spiritual birthday.

What Is a Spiritual Birthday?

Now, you might be wondering, what exactly is a spiritual birthday? Well, let me explain. You see, everyone has a physical birthday, the day they were born into this world. Mine happened on November 25, 1953, at Brooke Army General Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. 

However, a spiritual birthday is different. It’s the day when a person experiences a profound transformation, accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and embarking on a new spiritual journey. 

My spiritual birthday is July 11, 1977, a date etched in my heart forever, when I was “born again” and found salvation at the First Baptist Church of Lakewood in Tacoma, Washington.

My Story

Allow me to share with you the story of my own spiritual awakening, the day that changed the course of my life forever.

Back in July 1977, I was a second lieutenant serving in the United States Army at Fort Lewis, Washington. Life seemed to be going splendidly. I had a loving and intelligent wife, and we had welcomed our first child earlier that year. Professionally, I was excelling, receiving accolades for my work and even being offered a regular army commission. Yet, despite all the achievements and blessings, there was an unexplained void, a sense of emptiness deep within me.

In my pursuit of fulfillment, I tried various avenues. I indulged in drinking, sought solace in relationships, chased material possessions, and immersed myself in the social scene. But no matter what I did, that elusive something remained absent from my life. I sensed that there had to be more, something I was missing.

It was during this time that I became involved with a group of men at my church who seemed to possess a profound sense of purpose and contentment. Intrigued, I joined them for a Bible study. Little did I know that this encounter would lead me to the answers I had been desperately seeking.

Through the study, I discovered that God had provided us with a guidebook for life—the Bible. It held the key to addressing the problems we face and filling the void within us. 

I learned that I was not here by accident, but rather, I had a purpose. Most importantly, I discovered that Jesus loves me and desires to have a personal relationship with me. However, sin had created a separation between us.

I realized I had a sin problem.

Coming to terms with my own sinfulness was a crucial turning point. The Bible states, 

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:23 

I realized that despite my best efforts to be good and virtuous, I couldn’t save myself. Good deeds alone wouldn’t secure my place in heaven.

I learned there was a penalty to be paid for my sin.

The Bible also teaches that there is a penalty for sin—

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  

Romans 6:23

It was clear to me that I needed a solution, a way to bridge the gap between my sinful nature and God’s righteousness.

I learned God provided a promise.

Thankfully, God provided a promise—a way for us to be saved. 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

This verse revealed to me that God’s love is so immense that He sacrificed His only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for our sins.

I learned that God made provision for me.

In light of this revelation, I learned that I could receive God’s gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. 

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 10:9-10

It became clear to me that by acknowledging my need for a savior and accepting Jesus into my heart and life, I could experience the transformative power of His love.

I prayed to accept the gift of eternal life through Jesus.

In a heartfelt prayer, I embraced this gift of eternal life through Jesus. I acknowledged my sins, believed in His sacrifice on the cross, and invited Him to be the Lord of my life.

It was a moment of surrender, a surrender that would forever shape my journey.

What came next? 

From that day forward, my life has been far from perfect. I’ve stumbled and made mistakes along the way, sometimes veering off course. But amidst it all, I’ve found direction, purpose, and unshakeable peace.

The Bible has become my compass, guiding me through life’s trials and offering timeless principles for daily living. I’ve never been alone on this journey, for the presence of God has been with me every step of the way.

What About You?

Now, I pose a question to you: Have you experienced your own spiritual rebirth? Have you been “saved” and found solace in a higher power? 

Just as I did, you too can find salvation and peace. 

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. … For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  

Romans 10:9-10, 13

Why would an intelligent person believe in Christianity?”

But perhaps you are skeptical, wondering if an intelligent person or an intellectual can truly believe in God. The answer is a resounding yes!

Many brilliant minds have found faith in God and embraced Christianity. The real question should be, “How can an intelligent person believe in Christianity?” or “Why would an intelligent person believe in Christianity?” The truth is, faith and reason can coexist harmoniously.

As I reflect upon my spiritual journey, I can’t help but marvel at the extraordinary transformation that took place. 

Conclusion

That tired, weary face you see in the photo taken in February 1977 holds a story of profound change and hope. It captures a moment in time, a snapshot of a young couple embarking on a path filled with uncertainties and new beginnings.

So as we celebrate the birth of America this July, let us also remember the significance of personal rebirth, the power of salvation, and the transformative journey of faith.

About the photo

It was taken in February 1977 in my military quarters at Fort Lewis, Washington. In the photo in Miss Benita, my bride. We have been married since 1974. Also in the picture is our first child, Kristopher. Yes, I look tired. I had just returned home from a fourteen day training exercise. I had not had sleep in over 72 hours at the time the picture was taken. I was very tired. The picture was taken by my late father-in-law William Clarence Breeding, Sr. He and my mother-in-law had came to Washington State to help Miss Benita with our new son Kris.

Embracing Life’s Challenges: How Problems Shape Your Life Journey

Welcome to “It’s Never Too Late: Uncovering the Magic of Writing After Sixty,” I’m Dr. Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Christian nonfiction author and poet. This is my writer’s log for Monday, July 10, 2023. Today, I’m writing about embracing life’s challenges as I look at how problems shape your life journey.

Introduction

Maybe, like me, you’re facing challenges in various aspects of your life. I’m dealing with health issues like trigger finger (see photo), irritable bowel syndrome, and pancreatitis. Plus, I’m sixty-nine years and nine months old. Father Time has found me and is working me over.

Some of these issues are my excuses for being slow in getting edits/rewrites completed.

Dr Jim Kepler with trigger finger in a splint.

Be it personal, professional, or spiritual, it’s important to recognize that life presents us with many opportunities for problem-solving.

How we respond to these obstacles determines whether they will defeat us or contribute to our personal growth.

In this article, we’ll explore how God uses problems to guide, examine, correct, protect, and perfect us, as supported by powerful verses from the Bible.

1. God Uses Problems to Direct You (Proverbs 20:30)

Sometimes we need to experience painful situations to prompt us to change our ways. The blows that wound us can cleanse away the evil within us.

“Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.” These challenges can act as guiding forces, redirecting us towards a better path.

Proverbs 20:30

2. God Uses Problems to Inspect You (James 1:2-3)

Faced with various troubles, we are called to embrace joy, knowing that these challenges test our faith and build patience within us.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

James 1:2-3

However, it’s important to exercise caution and avoid excessive self-analysis, which can lead to a detrimental “why me Lord syndrome.”

3. God Uses Problems to Correct You (Psalm 119:71-72)

Difficulties can often be the catalysts for necessary corrections in our lives.

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”

Psalm 119:71-72

These afflictions, in hindsight, may be the best things that could have happened to us, guiding us to pay attention to God’s teachings and guiding principles.

4. God Uses Problems to Protect You (Genesis 50:20)

When others intend to harm us, God can transform those negative intentions into something good. Joseph acknowledges this truth in Genesis 50:20.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Genesis 50:20

God’s divine intervention can protect us from harm and transform our trials into blessings.

5. God Uses Problems to Perfect You (Romans 5:3-4)

Rather than discouraging us, problems can serve as opportunities for growth and character development.

Romans 5:3-4 teaches us to rejoice in our sufferings because they produce endurance, character, and hope.

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

Romans 5:3-4 ESV

These challenges strengthen our faith, enabling us to trust God more deeply.

Conclusion

Problems, when approached with the right perspective, have the potential to shape our character. While comfort may be appealing, God is more interested in our character development.

Our relationship with God and our character are the only things we will carry into eternity. Therefore, let us embrace the challenges we face, knowing that God desires to bring about positive changes in our lives, allowing us to make a difference in this world.

Remember, problems are not roadblocks, but stepping stones on our journey towards personal growth and spiritual maturity.

Writer’s Log – July 2, 2023

Dr Jim Kepler

Welcome to “It’s Never Too Late: Uncovering the Magic of Writing After Sixty,” I’m Dr. Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Christian nonfiction author and poet. This is my writer’s log for Sunday, July 2, 2023. Today, I’m writing about my writing life as a sixty-nine-year-old writer.

In Personal News

I made it to the fitness center yesterday. My goal of stretching my leg and hip muscles and walking 30-minutes on the treadmill was met. 

I guess I’m gripping the treadmill wrong or too much. I have developed something called “trigger finger.” It is a condition affecting tendons that flex the fingers and thumb, typically resulting in a sensation of locking or catching when you bend and straighten your digits. My symptoms may include pain and stiffness in the fingers and thumb. 

The condition is also known as stenosing tenosynovitis. I need to rest the left hand and specifically the “fickle finger” or middle finger on the hand. My father suffered from this condition. My finger physically locks and I have to force it to straighten out. Ugh.

A trip to the Sketchers store bagged me two new pairs of shoes. One was a pain of black Sketcher step-ins for exercising on the treadmill. They replace a pair of SAS athletic shoes at less than one-third the cost. The second pair were light brown (tan) casual shoes for wearing on ship during my trans-Pacific cruise this fall.

In Spiritual News

My Christian faith is important to me. I regularly attend Bible fellowship class and Sunday morning worship at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. I’ve been a member there for over two decades. 

In the worship service this morning, there was a salute to the armed services. The song for each branch of the military was played and members of or veterans of that branch stand and are recognized. 

It is the annual “God & Country” service. Today Dr. Jack Graham preached on “Is There Hope For America?”

You can watch live streaming or a replay of the service at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJXF34u8Xlk

My devotional time today was from the Christian Devotions US website https://christiandevotions.us/viewblogentry/21317. The devotion was from Matthew 5:42 NIV, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

In Reading News

I read another 40-minutes worth of Harry Potter and The Soccer’s Stone. I’ve figured out how to use the auto scrolling feature on my Kindle where I can also read while walking on the treadmill.

By using this feature I don’t have to change pages. I have it set to my reading speed. This allows the eReader to scroll like a teleprompter. Very cool!

In Writing News

You may enjoy the blog post “When Words Changed a Kingdom,” by Maureen  Miller at https://www.blueridgeconference.com/when-words-changed-a-kingdom/.

Maureen Miller blogs regularly at www.penningpansies.com.

You may also enjoy Linda Goldfard’s The Best Writing Life Podcast. This week’s episode is “How Authors Should Create Online Courses with Thomas Umstattd Jr.”

You can listen for free at https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-your-best-writing-life-69198117/.

You can learn more about Linda at https://www.lindagoldfarb.com/ or Thomas at https://www.thomasumstattd.com/. 

Have a good Sunday. 

Why I Write

My book “Caregiving: Biblical Insights From a Caregiver’s Journey” has been as high as #2 in paid sales in it’s category on Amazon. I write to share Jesus.

Morning Writing

My tall blonde roast coffee is sitting on the table. I’m at my usual table at my regular coffee house ready to begin my morning session. I know that in the age of mystics, life coaches, spiritual coaches, etc. that Jesus Christ and the Christian God isn’t that cool to many people and God is the brunt of disdain to some. But it’s God (God the Father, God the Son i.e .Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit) that I unapologetically write about.  

Hope: How to Have Hope During Times of Hardship

I’m 85% finished with the first draft of “Hope: How to Have Hope During Times of Hardship” It’s book three in my series, “The Bible Speaks to Life Issues.” Book one in the series is “Prayers for the Chronically Ill.” Book two is “Caregiving: Biblical Insights From a Caregivers Journey.” 

Bible Teaches About God

I remember what the Bible teaches about God. When Moses asked who shall I tell the Egyptians that send me, in Exodus 3:14 God spoke to Moses and said, “And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.” In a time when other cultures and peoples had gods of their creation and naming, God  replies to Moses without a name but a statement. The answer given here is crucial for understanding the identity and nature of God. This response becomes foundational in both Jewish and Christian theology. 

I AM WHO I AM

God identifies Himself using a phrase which is actually a description, or a statement: “I AM WHO I AM” or simply “I AM.” The first phrase, in Hebrew, is e’heyeh aser’ e’heyeh. This is most simply translated as “I am who I am.” Other translations of this important phrase include, “I am what I am,” or, “I will be what I will be,” and it could be taken to mean “that which will be, I am, that which will be” or similar ideas. Even in Hebrew, this is a statement which is not merely expressed as a name, or a word, or a description. This is a poetic expression of God’s very nature. 

God identifies Himself as the self-existent One

The statement carries a sense of necessity, simplicity, and absolute-ness. In using this particular phrasing, God identifies Himself as the self-existent One—the eternal, unique, uncreated God. God just is. He is the ultimate truth, the only necessary being, the beginning and end, the first cause. The question of who speaks from the burning bush is given an answer which is both simple and profound: “I AM.” This is how Moses would have interpreted the response, given the Hebrew words used.

No man cometh unto the Father, but by me

I’m reminded of the I AM statement in John 14:6 where Jesus is speaking and says, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” 

The only answer is Jesus

Good teachings, great philosophies, and the coolest life coaches are great but no the answer. The only answer is Jesus Christ. The timeless, unchanging, uncompromising teachings of the Bible about God and Jesus Christ are the ultimate answer. When you explore other teachings, philosophies, gurus etc.you are actually being a seeker of truth. Seek God and you’ll find the answer. You’ll find fulfillment, direction, purpose and even book a place in heaven for eternity.

Why I write

And that’s why I get up and come write almost every morning. I do it to share Jesus and share how the Bible speaks to us on life issues.

My story of accepting Jesus

Here’s how can know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and be sure heaven is your eternal home. Click the link to read my personal story of accepting Jesus –My Story.

What Does the Bible Say About Listening?


How to Become a Christian

Here’s how can know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and be sure heaven is your eternal home. Click the link to read my personal story of accepting Jesus –My Story.


Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase using the links in the article I receive a small commission.

Books: Click on BOOKS to see some of the books I’ve written or where I’ve been a contributor.


 

What Does the Bible Say About Having Perfect Peace?


How to Become a Christian

Here’s how can know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and be sure heaven is your eternal home. Click the link to read my personal story of accepting Jesus –My Story.


Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase using the links in the article I receive a small commission.

Books: Click on BOOKS to see some of the books I’ve written or where I’ve been a contributor.


 

What Does the Bible Say About People Who Please God?


How to Become a Christian

Here’s how can know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and be sure heaven is your eternal home. Click the link to read my personal story of accepting Jesus –My Story.


Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase using the links in the article I receive a small commission.

Books: Click on BOOKS to see some of the books I’ve written or where I’ve been a contributor.


 

What Does the Bible Say About Security?


How to Become a Christian

Here’s how can know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and be sure heaven is your eternal home. Click the link to read my personal story of accepting Jesus –My Story.


Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase using the links in the article I receive a small commission.

Books: Click on BOOKS to see some of the books I’ve written or where I’ve been a contributor.


 

What Does the Bible Say About Faithfulness and Productivity?


How to Become a Christian

Here’s how can know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and be sure heaven is your eternal home. Click the link to read my personal story of accepting Jesus –My Story.


Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase using the links in the article I receive a small commission.

Books: Click on BOOKS to see some of the books I’ve written or where I’ve been a contributor.


 

What Does the Bible Say About Who Fills You With Joy and Peace?


How to Become a Christian

Here’s how can know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and be sure heaven is your eternal home. Click the link to read my personal story of accepting Jesus –My Story.


Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase using the links in the article I receive a small commission.

Books: Click on BOOKS to see some of the books I’ve written or where I’ve been a contributor.